Creating a business intelligence strategy for contractors.

This article will provide you with information to help you create and implement a business intelligence strategy.  You can even download and use many free resources to make developing and implementing a business intelligence strategy easier for your organization.

Resources:

We have created many free resources for you.  We have linked to them in this page.

Business Intelligence is the process that a company can use to identify, collect, store, manipulate, visualize, and analyze data to improve their business.

Here is something to think about.  Data is now the most valuable resource in the world.  It’s true.  More valuable than all of the gold or oil in the world!  It may be hard to believe, but it is true.  One of the reasons is that every business can use data to create value for their business.  This may be in increased sales, profitability, or even operational efficiency.  Imagine leveraging data to increase your sales!  That is what marketing people do every day.  Many contractors and their agencies have a problem that they do not have a complete business intelligence strategy.  They may have a marketing strategy, but they have not appropriately planned so they can extract the most value from their data.  This is especially true as most contractors have data in many different places and cannot visualize it properly to analyze it.  This stresses the importance of a central dashboard.

It is worth mentioning that by developing and adopting a business intelligence strategy, we are not trying to make everyone’s lives more difficult, but the opposite is true.  If done adequately by leveraging automation and technology, you should strive to make the whole process easy and efficient.  This can then help your company from this point forward.

Creating your business intelligence roadmap.

For most contractors, the roadmap for creating your business intelligence strategy is similar.  It is not exactly the same for different contractors as there are differences in the data that each contractor collects and the way that each contractor currently uses data.  All of our resources can be used to get you going in the right direction.  Don’t worry we will explain all of this so that you do not need to be a data scientist to understand.  You can also reach out to us if you get stuck as we provide business intelligence consulting services including data-driven marketing to contractors.  This is written for the contractor.  For each of the main points in our roadmap, we are explaining them here and in the supporting documentation.

  • Data Review & Planning
  • Managing Data
  • Managing Visualizations & Dashboard
  • Reviewing & Analyzing Data
  • Actionable Data Plan
  • Ongoing Review & Edits
Resources:

Business Intelligence Roadmap 

PDF | PPT 

Implementing your business intelligence strategy.

As soon as you start planning and researching you are already starting to implement your business intelligence strategy!  Way to go!  One thing to keep in mind is that even when you have your dashboard completed for now you really are not done.  Over time things will change.  You may have some new metrics that you want to understand.  You may have some data that is new and needs to be added to your dashboard.  In other words, you will never, really, be finished.  Having a business intelligence strategy is an ongoing process.  You are not starting from scratch in the future so keeping your strategy fresh and accurate is easier.

Data review & planning

Business Intelligence involves many different types of data and data from many other sources.  Some of this data is analytical data, and some is even actionable.  Data is also much more than just Google Analytics or your CRM.  One of the most important steps in developing your business intelligence strategy is to go through a data review exercise.  This helps you identify the data which will be key to your success.  Careful thought is needed to be as thorough as possible.  

Our data review process involves two steps.

Step 1: What data would help you?

This step involves thinking a little outside the box.  If you could have any data, which could help you what would it be?  When thinking about this do not be constrained by your existing data sources.  For some contractors, understanding the value of their different marketing channels would be helpful.  What is the quality of your leads for each channel?  This review may help you get your data even more organized.  You will need to make sure you categorize your leads and sales into categories.  We suggest having main categories such “Web” and “Non-Web”.  Then you can have sub-categories.  For “Web” you could have Google Organic, Google Ads, Facebook, LinkedIn, Houzz, etc.  I think you get the picture.  By organizing your leads and sales data using the same categories you will be able to have graphs and other visualizations that can help you benefit from your data.

We have found the following data to be fundamental and crucial to contractors and especially when we are providing marketing services for the contractor.  This data includes Google Analytics or other website analytical data.  Lead and sales data from your CRM, Excel, or Google Sheet is vital. 

We have found that including data that can help contractors outrank their competitors for the most valuable searches on Google is extremely important.  We always include this data for our clients.  Now we are also making this data available to all contractors, as long as they do not compete with our marketing clients.  You can read more about these dashboards here. Read more about these fundamental data sources for contractors here.

Step 2: What data do you have access to and are you missing any?

You can use one of our Data Review Worksheets to help you organize the list of data that you have.  You should include all data sources in the list that you create.  I would not suggest filtering your list in any way at this point.  These data review exercises will help you get all of your data organized.  Our Google Sheet Data Review Google sheet can be used by you and your organization to create a list of your data sources.

You may see that there is a particular piece of data that would help you.  Let’s say for example, that you are paying for Google ads.  If there was data that showed how you rank, organically, for the most valuable Google searches, would it help you?  Make sure that you download our resource: Basic Data Information as this will explain how we have helped contractors dominate the most valuable searches while eliminating their need for PPC ads.  One of our clients has saved over $700k!

Resources:

Data Review Worksheet

Google Sheet | DOC | PDF 

Basic Data Information

 PDF 

Managing data.

The previous Data Review should help you understand your data sources.  You may want to create a backup plan for all of your data.  The process of collecting and storing your data from different data sources is fairly complex.  Each different data source will have different functionality and integration with your data visualization tools including your dashboard.  We will talk more about that in the next section.  It is important to try to automate the process of collecting, storing, and visualizing your data.  This is important as it will affect how successful your organization will be at implementing your Business Intelligence Strategy.

Managing visualizations and dashboard.

When it comes to data visualization is very important.  If you just have the raw data in tables it way be more difficult to understand the data.  There are many great tools out there for building your data dashboards.  Some of them include Google Data Studio, PowerBI, Looker, and Tableau to name a few.  We are not going to review all of them here as that would be a huge task.  All of them have similar functionality and features but they do vary.  Some charge for their services and one is even free for the main feature- the dashboard.  Many have free connectors which allow you to have an easy way to pull data in from different sources and some of these connectors are paid. 

Google Data Studio is the one that does not charge, at least for its core product.  There are many connectors that allow you to bring in data from various sources.  Since it is from Google it does have great, and easy-to-use, integration with other Google products including Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Google Sheets.  The Google Sheets connector makes connecting with data that you have in spreadsheets very easy to use.  This is great for contractors as no programming skills are needed.  

We have used Google Data Studio and found it to be very useful for contractors.  If you have never seen a Google Data Studio dashboard you can see one here.  This is a demo of our Competitive Ranking Analysis which we have available for contractors.

Reviewing & analyzing data.

Once you have your dashboard built you can start reviewing the data visualizations and analyzing this data.  Keep in mind that you may not get everything exactly perfect.  After looking at the data in various graphs you may realize that you need to make some adjustments.  This is normal.  You will need to make adjustments and over time your dashboard will evolve and will provide you with intelligence that you can use in various ways.

It is impossible for us to go into too much detail about reviewing and analyzing your data.  The people in your company, whose responsibilities are tied to the data, can review the data and use the data to measure and create actionable data. 

Actionable data.

If you strive to achieve results from your business intelligence you will want to understand this concept.  Whenever possible, try to extract actionable data from your dashboard.  Let me explain.  When you are able to look at your data and it helps you to understand what you should do, this is actionable data.  The data that we include in our Competitive Rankings Data, once reviewed, can help you take actions that can help you outrank your competitors for the most valuable searches for your business.  This is actionable data.  You should have a plan to use any actionable data that you end up generating.  The power of data is magnified if you understand that you need to use data to create measurable results instead of just using data to measure your results.

Ongoing review & edits.

The idea with data is to get the most value from it.  The principle of Business Intelligence is extracting value from your data.  You are figuring out how your organization can use data to do this.  You have to integrate data into how you operate.  You have to learn to see how your data becomes actionable.  Use data to create intelligence that your business can use to succeed.  Once you have your dashboard that is pulling in data from many different sources you are heading in the right direction.

One thing that you will come to understand is that data is not static.  Data changes.  Your sources of data change.  How you look at data changes.  This means that you may need to make periodic edits to your dashboard.  You may need to integrate a new data source.  Don’t be afraid to make changes.  You will need to.

At some point, you may realize that you are gaining wisdom from this data.  With our contractor clients, be categorizing and sub-categorizing their leads and sales and visualizing that data, they are able to gain insights into the value of their different marketing channels.  Which marketing channels generate sales with the highest revenue per sale?  Which marketing tactics generate higher-quality leads?  These are things that you need to know!  These are things that you can take advantage of if you have the data!

 

// If you get stuck.

Reach out and we can help.